Apologies for the lack of updates lately! I had final exams and then moving to contend with, but now I’ve returned with the second installment of my summation of the 2013 CATI Conference.
As I mentioned in Part 1, due to my inexperience with professional conferences I had only a few expectations for the CATI Conference. These were:
- Meeting some fellow translators and interpreters, including my CATI mentor, Graciela White, who serves on the CATI Board of Directors and also as the conference chairperson for this year’s conference;
- Getting some particular questions answered at the Student Panel;
- Possibly handing out my resume and connecting with a few freelancers and hopefully some translation companies searching for new hires.
Were these expectations fulfilled by the Conference? If so, how?
The answer is: Overall, yes, they were!
- Meeting other translators was probably the most valuable part of the Conference for me, and yet it was also probably the part that I expected to be least valuable. I did get to meet and speak briefly with Ms. White, and I also met and spoke with many, many other translators, both professional and student. Learning about their work and listening to their advice was extremely beneficial to me as a newcomer to the field. I met the keynote speaker, Dr. James Nolan, who was also my legal translation professor from NYU; students from a Spanish class at Meredith College; many Spanish/English translators; an English-to-Russian translator; and a Chinese/English translator, among others, and each had important experiences from which I could–and did–learn. In other words, though networking was the part of the Conference from which I expected to benefit the least, it was actually the part from which I benefited the most.
2. As a student of translation, the Student Panel was the session I was looking forward to the most. Unfortunately, it turned out that this was perhaps the session from which I learned the least. The Conference was organized so that the main room, pictured above, was the location where everyone ate and networked and listened to the keynote speaker. This was great except that there was a coffee break scheduled to be held in this room at the same time the Student Panel was scheduled to be held–you guessed it–also in this room.
I think that the Panel definitely could have been organized better in this regard. It was held at the front of the room, where the speakers–all experienced translators and interpreters whom we students were eager to question and learn from–all lined up at the front. This would have been fine if they had been using microphones or if there weren’t other people milling about in the same room talking during the coffee break; however, the speakers weren’t using mikes and other people were talking, so it was extremely difficult to hear the students’ questions and the panel members’ answers, even though I was sitting in the same section. Because of this difficulty, I was unable to glean very much from this session, which was disappointing.
3. As it turns out, translators and interpreters don’t exchange resumes at networking events; they exchange business cards instead. This makes sense now that I think about it; however, I hadn’t realized it before, and as a student I don’t have business cards of my own, and so instead of handy, portable business cards to hand out I had printed off several unwieldy resumes. This didn’t work very well for networking purposes.
However, there was another reason I had printed off resumes, and that was the possibility (so I thought) that there would be representatives from translation companies present at the Conference looking for new hires. As it turned out, there were representatives there, but they weren’t representing translation companies. Instead, there was one from the InTrans Books, an online book service especially for translators and interpreters; Cape Fear Community College, where the Conference was held this year and which offers a certificate program in Spanish interpreting (either legal or medical); Charlotte AHEC; and Wake Forest University, which offers an undergraduate Spanish major with certificates in translation/localization and interpreting as well as a graduate program in interpreting and translation studies and several related graduate certificates. It was interesting to talk with these exhibitors despite the fact that none of them was hiring.
There were also several other aspects of the Conference which should be noted:
- The Association provided flash drives for each attendee on which are the Conference program, the winter-spring edition of the CATI Quarterly, and notes on each session provided by the speakers. I don’t know whose idea these flash drives were, but it’s brilliant. Not only does it save paper, it also enables attendees to look over notes from sessions which they were unable to attend as well as to get information they may have missed in the sessions they did attend. I hope the Association continues to provide these in the future. Well done!
- Raffles! There were several items raffled off by the Association. I won a gift card to InTrans Books, which I immediately spent on the highly interesting Through the Language Glass and the extremely useful Spanish-English Dictionary of Law and Business, which I have already used countless times in my summer translation classes. Needless to say, I was very grateful to have won something and I hope the Association will continue to hold raffles in the future.
- Finally, I had gone into the Conference with the preconception that interpreters and translators (particularly the latter) are rather introverted and reserved. That may be true on an individual, personal level, but as my experience with networking proves, interpreters and translators can be just as outgoing and social as anyone else. Maybe it was because we were among our own kind, maybe it was something else, but everyone I met at the Conference was eager to get to know me and give me advice. I appreciated this greatly!
That about sums it up for my experience as a first-time student attendee of the CATI Conference. Did anyone else attend? What was your experience like? Did you have a favorite session? Leave a comment and tell us!